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Report on Manam (Papua New Guinea) — March 1981


Scientific Event Alert Network Bulletin, vol. 6, no. 3 (March 1981)
Managing Editor: Lindsay McClelland.

Manam (Papua New Guinea) Ash emission, seismicity, and inflation increase

Please cite this report as:

Global Volcanism Program, 1981. Report on Manam (Papua New Guinea) (McClelland, L., ed.). Scientific Event Alert Network Bulletin, 6:3. Smithsonian Institution. https://doi.org/10.5479/si.GVP.SEAN198103-251020


Papua New Guinea

4.08°S, 145.037°E; summit elev. 1807 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

"During the first 2 months of 1981 a low level of activity prevailed. White and occasionally brown emissions were observed from both craters. In March, moderate to strong brown and light grey ash-laden emissions were common from Southern crater. Main crater emissions were also grey on several occasions. Explosive sounds from the summit were rarely heard in January and February but became noticeable in the second half of March. Night observations of the volcano in January and February indicated no lava fragment ejections above the craters, although weak glow above Southern crater was reported for 2 January. Sparse ejections of lava fragments from the crater were observed overnight on 14-15 March, and glow above Southern crater was observed on 30 March.

"Background volcano-seismic levels remained fairly steady January-March, but a significant change in seismic activity was the occurrence of strong local earthquakes, possibly of volcanic origin. Preliminary analysis of seismic records showed that five such events were recorded in February and 14 in March.

"The tiltmeters at Manam continued to show a trend of northerly uplift. After the last major eruptive period in 1974 a pattern of summit deflation prevailed until early 1978. Total deflation was about 14 µrad. A definite trend of inflation began in the second half of 1979. The accumulated tilt during the last 2 years was about 6 µrad.

"Aerial inspections were made on 6 and 19 March. Cloud cover prevented detailed observations of summit activity on 6 March but a distinct blue vapour haze was drifting down the N and NW flanks. On 19 March, brown ash-laden ejections from Southern crater were occurring at about half-minute intervals. Main crater continuously released white vapours. Again a blue vapour haze was present, extending about 1 km N of the summit."

Geological Summary. The 10-km-wide island of Manam, lying 13 km off the northern coast of mainland Papua New Guinea, is one of the country's most active volcanoes. Four large radial valleys extend from the unvegetated summit of the conical basaltic-andesitic stratovolcano to its lower flanks. These valleys channel lava flows and pyroclastic avalanches that have sometimes reached the coast. Five small satellitic centers are located near the island's shoreline on the northern, southern, and western sides. Two summit craters are present; both are active, although most observed eruptions have originated from the southern crater, concentrating eruptive products during much of the past century into the SE valley. Frequent eruptions, typically of mild-to-moderate scale, have been recorded since 1616. Occasional larger eruptions have produced pyroclastic flows and lava flows that reached flat-lying coastal areas and entered the sea, sometimes impacting populated areas.

Information Contacts: C. McKee, RVO.